The tragic incident of the suicide attack in Pulwama claimed lives of more than 40 Central Police Reserve Forces (CRPF) troopers triggered a new debate in mainstream media of India soon after the reports surfaced that the attacker is an associate of Pakistani militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who has been involved in the practice of Jihad when the idea of Jihad was thought as a legitimate activity in Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) by Pakistan, that too before the General Musharraf regime.
There is no second opinion about the oppressive attitude of India since 1990 in Kashmir; it is an open secret that India tried its level best to oppress the voice of Kashmiris for freedom by militarising the region. There are stories of mass killings, gang rapes, abuses and all other illegitimate and extrajudicial acts done by the Indian government in Kashmir valley. No sane voice will be in favor of Indian oppression and tyrannies in Kashmir. It has seen, from time to time, the progressive voices from both the countries chanted to resolve the Kashmir issue amicably by peaceful talks and negotiations.
After the Pulwama Attack, there was an outburst in social media and mainstream media by Indians and their sentiments were exactly like patriots, who have a sentimental attachment with the army, police and other institutions of the states. But simultaneously, pro-Hinduwata people, Journalists, members of Hindu extremist outfits, nationalist intellectuals, students and mere common men and women were in a view to imposing a war on Pakistan – and Muslims – immediately.
As a repercussion of the suicide attack, there was a wave of hatred against Kashmiris Muslims, including students, travelers, businessmen, academia and other professionals across India. India was hating, abusing, harassing and assaulting the Kashmiris. Many students of Kashmir, studying in different parts of India left their studies and reached back to Kashmir to save their lives. The Hindu extremism was at its peak after the incident even in Jammu which is another part of the state of J-K, with a majority population of Hindus.
After the attack Hindu extremists staged protests against the Kashmiri Muslims and physically attacked the colleges, universities, hospitals and other institutions where Kashmiri Muslims were found. The prominent trend on Twitter during the whole situation was all Kashmiri activists, bloggers, journalists, and pro-Kashmir political activist ran an SOS trend to save the Kashmiris who were stuck in other cities to avoid mess up with the outrageous mobs.
On the other hand, there was simultaneous condemnation and celebration by several Pakistanis on social media; it was shocking to observe that some apparently progressive and enlightened journalists and political activists seemed happy by their social media updates and tweets. They were arguing with Indians on Twitter and were trying to establish that the 19-year-old guy who executed the suicide attack in Pulwama was right and he took the revenge of all those brutalities what India has done so far.
There is no second opinion about the emotional attachment of Pakistanis people with Kashmir as it has been indoctrinated and embedded in their minds that Kashmir is the juvenile vein of Pakistan by conventional history. Likewise, the Indian state has indoctrinated among the people that Kashmir is their integral part. But the missing part among all two main stakeholders of is the people of J-K (As people of J-K and Gilgit Baltistan) are not being considered as the same.
When it comes to people; Pakistanis think about only the Muslim inhabited in J-K. They usually forget to think about the overall population of J-K state, i.e. Muslims, Hindu, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists. So according to Pakistani fanatic Muslim Nationalism which is backing the people who are the patrons of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Hizbul-ul-Mujahideen are in a view that freedom of Kashmir refers to freedom of Muslims residing in Kashmir; who will get rid of India and then have a volunteer annexation with Pakistan.
It is a surprising fact that the intelligentsia of Pakistan who less or more knows about the historical perspective of Kashmir issue does not consider the voices who are pro-India and pro-Independence. While during the whole episode of Pulwama attack, the Indian fanatic nationalists believe that Kashmir (State of J-K) belongs to them as they have an accession agreement with Maharaja Hari Singh.
The issue of Indian Hindu Nationalism is that they only want resources and land of J-K without considering the people’s will and compromising on basic human rights in the state of J-K, which they have been controlling so far.
As both sorts of nationalism – Hindu and Muslim – are being criticized and not thought a good approach in India, and Pakistan, by progressive and secular circles of both the countries but the state’s narrative about the anti- Hindu and anti-Muslim is so strong which determines the public opinion all across through the mainstream media.
Nobody from mainstream political parties and amongst the stakeholders considers the will and wish of people of J-K which can make a significant difference. For instance, during the recent episode of Pulwama Attack, it has been noticed that Kashmiri Muslim students from different parts of India were compelled to leave their academic institutions, however, some sane human from India opened their houses for Kashmiri boys and girls. It is important to understand if the Indian public considers Kashmir as an integral part, they must acknowledge the rights of common Kashmiri people what have been determined by the state in the constitution. Simultaneously, Pakistan must have to understand that if the militant outfits are not being controlled and their names are widely used in any sort of militant activity inside the valley, people of J-K (Muslims) would have to face the repercussions across India.
We must have to understand that the Kashmir issue is not merely based on Muslim and Hindu nationalism. The state of J-K is having an ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in its geographical outskirts. There are different political narratives to resolve the issue from accession to Pakistan and India to complete independence, without considering the opinion of all the political, social, ethnic, and regional stakeholders on board. The phenomenal oppression and snubbing the voices of people of J-K could not be helpful for the conflict resolution. The primary step towards conflict resolution is to have the patience to listen to the people of J-K. Both the parties must have to ensure the negotiations about the issue and to avoid any adventure which can ultimately damage the peace of the region. Notwithstanding the fact that state’s tyranny indiscriminately damaging the common Kashmiri but they are prone to more damage when they will be culprits of militant organizations that will not propel their struggle internationally rather they would be profiled as ‘terrorists’.
Pakistan and India must stop the warmongering and there is a vital role of media, progressive and democratic voices across and off-course political leadership of both sides. They must think about the marginalized and deprived masses of India and Pakistan rather than spending a big chunk of money in the name of defense. The politics of religious nationalism will not last for a long time in Indo-Pak and at a certain stage, people will demand their basic rights from those who are busy in giving the chocolate coated candies of religion.
Kashmiri leadership, particularly from Valley, must understand that the mere ‘Muslim nationalism’ will be unable to decide the fate of J-K state. They would have to associate the struggle with the daily life issues of people without having an incentive from the Indian state if they are really against the hegemony of India in Kashmir.
The writer is a freelance commentator from Pakistani administrated Kashmir.